Managing online and offline time

Based in Manchester, UK, Emma Lavelle has spent the past two years writing travel and lifestyle content for various online and printed publications. But that’s not all: Emma is also a dab hand at photography and interior styling. All of which add up to a great deal of hours online. In her guest blog here, Emma tells us how she manages to juggle her time.      

When your passion is also your job, it can be incredibly hard to switch off. I get paid to write about my adventures, to scroll through Instagram hitting ‘like’ and, sometimes, to go on holiday. It may sound idyllic, but there’s also plenty of time spent ploughing through monotonous admin, pitching ideas to publications that will never respond, and a distinct lack of downtime. Working for yourself is all about balance, something that I’m still learning.

Half of the week, I’m a travel writer: relating stories about my most recent escapades, writing click-bait content for high-profile websites, and dreaming about the day that I receive an email from Conde Nast Traveler. The other half of the week, I manage the creative content for an interiors website, which involves constantly being switched on to social media. In between, I somehow manage to write a blog. When you factor in the travels that I need to embark on in order to have something to write about, my spare time starts to disintegrate.

Following several rows with my partner, I’ve realised that I spend too much time working. You may not consider (I didn’t) writing a blog post, taking photos to accompany it or engaging on Instagram as ‘working’, but when you realise that these activities are all eating into your personal time, something has to give. I can’t even fully relax on holiday—the Instagram accounts I manage all need to continue ticking over, and I’m constantly considering the content that I need to pull together following the trip.

The solution may seem easy, but it’s harder in practice. My phone, my laptop, my camera and my notebook are my connections to my work. These four objects are among my most treasured, but sometimes they need to be put away, in another room. Out of sight, out of mind. My phone, perhaps quite obviously, is the hardest addiction to step away from. As I write, it’s beside me, tempting me with its alluring notifications. Turning it off or placing it just out of reach are the two most effective ways of helping me ignore it.

The most effective way to differentiate my online and offline time at home is by creating zones in the house. I only ever work in our living room, usually at my desk but occasionally slouched on the sofa. The bedroom is a work-free zone, and I have a firm rule that I never bring my laptop to bed. It can be hard to separate online and offline time by using a recreational room for working, but I find that packing all of my work paraphernalia away at the end of the day usually works.

My offline time is predominantly spent outdoors, mainly because that’s where I love to be but also because walking, swimming and exploring are all effective ways of leaving technology behind. If I find my head becoming fuzzy from spending too much time staring at screens, or if I’m simply craving quality time with my boyfriend and dog, the best way for me to step away from my work is to head out to the countryside. I love to go on long walks, swim in rivers and to explore new places. I won’t lie though, my camera almost always accompanies me and there’s always a little voice in my head wondering if I could pull a blog post together about this adventure.

  • Do you want to read more about Emma Lavelle? In Flow Magazine Issue 20 you can read an interview with her or take a look at her website.
  • We’re having a Social Detox Week on the blog. See all tips and blogs about using your phone less here.
  • Flow introduces a Social Out of Office to let people on social media know you’re temporarily unavailable. Do you want to know how you can use it? Go to Flowmagazine.com/socialooo.

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